LAMOINE — After months of debate on the issue, Lamoine residents Tuesday voted to prohibit the permitting of any new gravel pits virtually anywhere in town.
The 450-268 vote comes just days after a family trust — in anticipation of the vote Tuesday — filed suit claiming the restriction on new gravel pits would be a violation of constitutional rights.
The referendum approved by voters Tuesday amends the town’s Building and Land Use Ordinance to prohibit new mineral exploration and sand and gravel pits within the residential and the rural and agricultural zones.
Those two areas cover most of Lamoine’s land mass.
Excluded from the ordinance are gravel pit properties for which owners have already been granted a permit or who applied for a permit before March 13, 2013.
The suit filed in Hancock County Superior Court June 4 was on behalf of the Robert B. Ames Family Trust.
Attorney Edmond Bearor asked that the amended ordinance not be applied to the 20-acre Ames property.
The land is in the rural and agricultural zone in an area dominated by sand and gravel deposits and active commercial gravel pits, he said.
The Ames estate was established in 1987 to benefit Veda Ames, wife of the late Robert Ames, and their heirs.
The land was intended to provide income for the care, support, education, maintenance and welfare of the trust’s beneficiaries, Bearor said.
He said Veda Ames is elderly, resides in a nursing home and the income from the trust is used to support the cost of her nursing home care.
The trust has been attempting to sell the land in order to help pay for Ames’ nursing home expenses.
An engineering report conservatively estimated that the Ames property contains not less than 480,000 cubic yards of sand and gravel deposits with a fair market value of between $215,000 and $240,000.
Bearor said when the land was acquired and later conveyed to the trust that commercial extraction of gravel was a permitted use.
The ordinance, he said, constitutes “an uncompensated regulatory taking in violation of the trust’s constitutional rights.”